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Crop progress slumps amidst Midwest flood waters

Agriculture.com Staff 06/09/2008 @ 2:00pm

The rain's still falling, crop conditions are slipping and the nerves are rattling in Chicago.

Monday's USDA Crop Progress report showed a three-percent decline in corn conditions from the previous week, with 60% in good-to-excellent condition compared to 63% a week ago. Forty percent is seen in very poor to fair shape, compared to 30% last week. Emergence is slightly behind the average pace: As of Sunday, 89% of the nation's corn had emerged, compared to the previous 95% average.

Monday's soybean planting numbers alone are enough to make market-watchers and traders in Chicago a little nervous. Plantings are 12% off the previous average at 77%. There is one bright spot with soybeans, however, as 85% of the nation's beans are in fair-to-good shape compared to the 82% fair-to-good average.

Recent record rainfall amounts are starting to trickle into projected corn and soybean yields. Aside from fields simply being inundated by flood waters, emergence and root weakness are major crop concerns. While the latter conditions could cause yield drags later on, it's the water that has the most damage potential.

"There are estimates that 2 million acres of agricultural land has now been 'lost' for the season due to reoccurring heavy rains since March and the most recent round of pounding rains and flooding," says Chicago, Illinois-based QT Weather ag meteorologist Allen Motew. "This 'hit' on corn and beans is approaching the disastrous year of the Great Flood of 1993 where 3 millions acres were lost and corn yields dropped more than 24%."

Motew adds National Weather Service data show soil moisture at "once-in-a-hundred-year levels" in much of the Corn Belt and parts of the mid-South.

"The damage has been done. Record rainfall has fallen in the past three days across all ready flooded regions of the Plains and Corn Belt and more is on the way. This has left the corn and soybean crops in a ruined or perilous situation," Motew says. "Call it what you will: 'Noah's Ark' as one trader said...or, the 'Mean floods of 2008.' However you put it, the Corn Belt is suffering and there is no end in sight."

Other weather-watchers do see an end in sight, however. Charlie Notis of Freese-Notis Weather, Inc., in Des Moines, Iowa, sees signs that things will "calm down a good deal" by the week's end.

"Will it be completely dry? I doubt it, and some places may still see above-normal rainfall," Notis says. "It would be a step in the right direction, though, if we could simply end the inundating rains that have plagued the region, and I do think that we can get that to happen once we get past this work-week period."

Though Notis' outlook includes an end to the current wet-weather funk in corn and soybean country, farmers are already finding crop damage and signs that it's going to be a while before normal conditions can return, even after the rains stop. Agriculture Online Marketing Talk members and farmers say their crops are developing slowly and, in some areas, it will be a while before the waters recede.

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